End of Season Garden Review

As the season comes to a close and I prepare to shut down my garden for the winter I’m already very involved in plans for next year!  Here is a review of what I did this year along with how well (or badly) things worked

2012 Garden Background:

The year of the garden beds!  We built our “real” garden this year.  We fully completed the 22’x28′ space that we tilled the year before but didn’t end up planting completely.  We built four 3’x6′ beds using fence pickets, we got two 4’x8′ cedar beds from my father in law (thanks!) in addition to two 2’x8′ beds and one long 3’x22′ bed.  We got mulch from the town and mulched in between all the beds.  The fence is more than a little weak inviting not one but two bunny nests but the pea trellis made from PVC pipe and the bean teepee turned out really nice.  I did end up moving the cucumber trellis so it’s stretched from the edge of a 4’x8′ bed to the outside garden fence.July 16 031

More pictures of the 2012 garden can be found in earlier posts.

2012 Plants:

**Parsnip— Planted too close to beans and tomatoes and they took a LONG time to grow and that was the second attempt.  I’ll wait to harvest them until after a frost.2012-11-22_10-09-39_511

*Bush Bean, Slenderette— Two successful plantings with great harvest.  The third planting was pulled before it flowered because of the mexican bean beetle infestation.Aug 06 146

**Pole Bean, Kentucky Wonder–Long growth, beans were prolific but I didn’t really enjoy the taste, they grew so fast that I often missed picking them until too late.  They were very easy to miss amidst the leaves, I didn’t have that problem with the bush beans but I might try another variety of pole.2012-07-29_19-08-49_460

Dry Bean, Vermont Cranberry–No trouble at all but I feel that they took up a lot of space for very little reward.  The harvest wasn’t worth the amount of time/space they took up without the reward of being able to pick regularly (my favorite part about growing beans!).

Cranberry drying beans, the pods are so cool!

Beets, Golden–I think it might have been the bunnies but my beets came up and then disappeared.  I ended up with one from my first planting (that I picked after a long time but found it tiny!) my second planting has one single beet remaining and all of the sprouts from the third disappeared.  An experiment that I’d say totally failed.

**Brussels Sprouts– If I’d read the seed packet correctly I probably would have planted a little better but I read “2 feet” as “2 inches” and waaaaaaaay overplanted!  I thinned but couldn’t quite bring myself to thin to two feet apart and ended up transplanting six plants to another bed.  They took about a week to get back on track after their transplant shock.  They’ve all been riddled with holes from cabbage moths and grasshoppers (I think, I’ve never actually seen ANY bugs on them but I’ve seen white moths around them occasionally).  Harvest will come after the frost!

Cabbage , Pinetree Mix–Failure.  Three came up but were so small after almost two months that I pulled them.  I think I might be done with cabbages for a while.

*Carrots, Atomic Red, Cosmic Purple, Rainbow, Sugar Snax, Napoli–Sugar Snax, although planted later than the others, grew the best!  I planted the first three types around the tomato plants which was great until July when the tomato plants took off and almost drowned the carrots.  The Sugar Snax were planted alone in rows in front of some beans and gestated really well and then have taken off in growth!  All of the carrots were tasty and I’ll be trying them all again but this time in rows and not under any other plants!2012-09-22_16-16-22_106

*Chives–small but there!  I didn’t think they would even come up but they’ve sprouted and are big enough to trim and use in the kitchen.2012-07-29_19-14-34_300

*Corn, Incredible–Next year I’ll stagger planting a bit better and aim for three separate plantings and possibly try more than one variety (though I’m not clear on the rules about what to not cross-pollinate so I might just play it safe with one kind).  The bugs have been all over the corn (the stink bugs went NUTS and there have been earwigs, corn borers/cucumber beetles and a couple unnamed pests) but the ears look good.2012-07-29_19-07-16_665

*Cucumber, Diva, Long Green–The Divas didn’t make it and I am SO SAD.  They died, I think from a bacterial wilt spread by the plethora of cucumber beetles that attacked them in July.  We ended up with only two cucumbers from there and one of them was HORRIBLY bitter.  So disappointed because I loved them so much the year before!  The Long Greens, on the other hand, managed to weather the bugs in full force.  I planted them far too close together (after the Divas hadn’t really sprouted well) thinking that they wouldn’t all make it.  It will be dangerous if a disease starts because it’ll spread like wildfire.  The cucumbers have been a little stunted too, maybe blossom end rot?  I’ll try these two types again.2012-07-29_19-04-59_644

*Kale– Planted in mid August.  Next year I’ll plant much earlier and possibly more than once.

*Lettuce, Pinetree Mix, Pinetree Winter Mix– The Summer Mix has been fabulous!  I’m not in love with the Deer’s Tongue variety but it’s not bad in a salad.2012-07-29_19-14-10_746

*Peas, Mr. Big Pea, Sugar Snap–I’m madly in love with both of these peas.  The only problems were that I didn’t plant them soon enough or enough of them!  I’ll solve that next year.

The peas are climbing fast

The peas are climbing fast

Pumpkin, Kakai Hulless–The pumpkins were an experimental crop that I will be passing on for a few years.  The vine borers,  squash beetles and cucumber beetles went crazy on them and, unfortunately, I didn’t take care of it soon enough.  We ended up with horribly rotted, bug infested, dead vines and one surviving pumpkin (out of three).  It’s small, about the size of Peanut’s head and not worth carving up for the seeds that I grew it for in the first place.  I’m going to let Punkin paint it like a Jack-O-Lantern though 🙂2012-07-29_19-11-25_65

*Squash, Zucchini– The same bugs that attacked my pumpkins eventually made there way over to the zucchini although they were VERY resilient!  I planted two per mound at opposite ends of an 8′ bed and the powdery mildew that did eventually emerge didn’t spread very fast within each plant or from plant to plant.  Eventually I pulled the plants out because of the bugs and mildew even though they were still producing viable fruit.  I didn’t want their issues to get out of control.  Next year I may plant one hill of zucchini but I’ll add a few other types of squash (possibly finding non-hollow types so the vine-boreres won’t move in again).

*Strawberries–They are growing really well!  They’ve sent out multiple runners and produced throughout the summer.  I tried to keep the flowers in check (as the book told me to do for the first year) but they just kept appearing!  I need straw to mulch and bed them down for the winter.  I can’t wait for our harvest next summer!June 15 018
*Tomato, Grape, Cherry, Full-sized–I wish I could be more specific in the types of tomatoes but my father in law bought me 20 (I gave 5 away so managed 15 myself) and they had no information or names.  It’s too bad, too, because I loved the cherry tomatoes this year.  They draped off in waterfall-like vines from the cages and they didn’t crack very easily (I did mulch 10 of the plants and will do that again but thicker next year).  I was worried about caring for so many plants because my 2011 tomato experience didn’t go very well but I kept a close eye on them in the first few weeks (managing suckers) and they remained mostly under control the whole season.  Five of the plants were supposed to go to my mother so sat, unplanted, for a few extra weeks in the garden.  Those plants haven’t produced as much as the others but they did grow and produce!   Next year I want roma tomatoes, cherry, and some heirloom varieties.  I’m looking forward to canning and roasting a lot next year because I use A LOT of tomatoes in my cooking.

Grape tomatoes

Grape tomatoes

*definitely growing again in 2013!

**possibly growing again in 2013.

Considerations For 2013

Swiss Chard



Peppers (hot and sweet)



Herbs (maybe parsley, dill, mint, cilantro, basil, sage)

Flowers (morning glories, nasturtiums, marigolds, goldenrod, yarrow)

And we’ve expanded the garden adding five new 10′ beds and four small boxes (one for each child).  I’m really looking forward to the spring!

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